Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Great Oslo Adventure

Hei Hei to all of our readers from Shelby (and Kjerstin)

Thank you for your patience :) We do realize that our blog has been rather stagnant of late, but it has been a busy couple of weeks! Last week Kjerstin and I were cat-sitting "Moses" for the lovely Anne and Oddger (our pastor friends and lecturers), which meant we spent a decent amount of time in town at their beautiful home spending time with the rambunctious cat instead of writing our blog.

On Wednesday, Kjerstin and I spent the evening at the Hunderfossen Vinterpark.

Here's the website : http://www.vinterparken.no/default.asp?V_ITEM_ID=445&V_LANG_ID=1

It was a lovely (if a tad expensive) winter theme park complete with a castle, troll forest, ice hotel, and "fairytale grotto." I could really spend a whole blog on it, but at present I will not. Perhaps once I upload some photos :)

Also, this weekend we traveled to Oslo and had a grand old time there!

I will attempt to share a bit about our trip. I apologize ahead of time for length...but we did a LOT of things in Oslo over the 3 days and I will describe our activities as briefly as I can.


We arrived in Oslo around 11 after a 2 hour train ride from Lillehammer. We dropped off our bags at our hotel and started our sight-seeing. Lucky for me, I got to tour the city with Kjerstin who lived in Oslo for 6 weeks two summers ago while she was attending the International University, so she always had the inside scoop! (By the way, that is also why Kjerstin has the best Norwegian skills of the entire American group and often surprises our Norwegian acquaintances).

For the weekend we were given an "Oslo Pass" which is a 24 or 48 hour pass you purchase that will get you onto any public transportation in Oslo and free admission to most museums. This turned out to be an excellent way to see Oslo, as we were able to move about and look around as we pleased! Here are a few of the places we saw on Friday:

The Royal Palace: You can't really go inside or anything, but you can walk up very close to the entrance and take pictures. It's a fairly modern palace, as it was built in the late 1800s for the new Norwegian King that they imported from Denmark.

Vigeland Park and Museum: Vigeland was a sculptor who donated his studio and works to the city of Oslo in the form of a beautiful sculpture park. His sculptures are all fairly realistic representations of the human form, but they are usually telling a story. These images are very popular in Norway, and you may have seen photos of this park before in relation to Norway.

The National Gallery: Here is where most of the famous Norwegian artists have their original work shown. We saw "The Scream" along with many of Edvard Munch's other works, along with original works by Non-Scandinavian artistic giants such as Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Manet, and Picasso. It was a very cool feeling to be that close to the works of such legends, but also intriguing to learn about other Scandinavian artists like J.C. Dahl and Christian Krong. If you ever go to Oslo, this had better be on your list....plus, admission is always free for it!

Akerbrygge: This is the name for the harbor area where most tourists talk leisurely walks, eat at outdoor cafes, and take panoramic shots of Oslo and the distant fjords. It was a very pretty stroll that we took, but I think it would be so much better had the weather been warmer. This is definitely more of a summer attraction.

Opera House: After eating supper at TGIFridays (GASP!! I know, I know...but we got a 20% discount with our Oslo Pass and the burgers were heavenly!) we walked to the brand-new Oslo Opera House right on the harbor. It was a gorgeous, modern building and in the summertime you can walk on the roof! The unique design concept was also continued inside the lobby and even the bathrooms were beautiful! If I were not a poor college student, I would LOVE to see an opera in this venue.


Folk Museum: There is a peninsula in Oslo on the harbor called Bygdøy where many of the museums are located. On this peninsula we attended the Folk Museum, The Viking Ship Museum, The Kontiki Museum, and the FRAM museum. The Folk Museum is an open-air museum with homes ranging from the 1300s to the present. We got to sample Lefse made the old fashioned way over the fire, look through an exhibit on the Sami, and take a trip through time with an apartment building refurnished to represent many different time periods and types of inhabitants. (One of the apartments was furnished to represent Henrik Ibsen's exact set instructions for A Doll's House and apparently a theatre group had reenacted the play within the apartment some years ago for a very small audience.)

Viking Ship Museum: This museum was built around a few large viking ships that were found in a burial spot of a Viking Queen. It was amazing to see how large and well-built this ships were and to view many of the other Viking artifacts found at the sites.

The Kon-Tiki Museum: For any of you that haven't heard of Thor Heyerdal and his mission to prove that the South America and Polynesia shared some cultural roots in their "tiki" idols, I would ask you to wait for another post from us about this awesome museum. Tomorrow we meet Heyerdal's son and I am sure we could write a whole blog about this amazing journey.

The Fram: Fridtjof Nansen was a national hero in Norway, being the first one to take a wooden ship on a perilous journey to the North Pole. While he did not reach his destination, he made it farther than any man before him, making him a world-renowned explorer. The museum was built around his ship, "The Fram" which was used for three polar expeditions, and means "forward." We were able to walk on the deck and inside the ship, as well as see many of the artifacts used by Nansen and other polar explorers.

The Nobel Peace Prize Museum: This was a must-see for us, being that our president is the current recipient and the object of the current exhibit at the museum. The exhibit was labeled "From King to Obama" and focused on the progression of civil rights in the U.S. from King's time to the election of Obama. It was very interesting to read about our own country through the Norwegian perspective and my favorite part of the museum was the multimedia. They had stations where you could listen to the many songs that defined the civil rights movement, such as "Strange Fruit", "The Times Are a Changin" and " We Shall Overcome" along with some information about how the songs became so relevant to the time period. I thought this was a fascinating way to tell history and very well done.


Ibsen Museum:
We were pretty tired after our marathon of museums the day before, but we had 2 more places we really wanted to see before leaving Oslo on Sunday. The first was one of my favorites, the Ibsen museum. As a theatre student, you cannot graduate without learning a bit about Ibsen and his plays, especially A Doll's House and Hedda Gabbler. If you are Norwegian, you would know Ibsen also because of his play, Peer Gynt, for which Grieg wrote his music and the famous "Hall of the Mountain King" piece came from. In short, this man is very important to the artistic history of the western world. And this was not just a museum, this was a museum adjacent to Ibsen's last apartment, where he and his wife lived until they both had passed away. And we got to get a personal tour of it! I was in the theatre-geek heaven. I could go on for a page, but I won't for your sake. Needless to say, it was cool.

The Akershus Fort and Resistance Museum: On the side of the harbor opposite Bygdøy sits The Akershus Fort. Inside the fortress there is a castle where Swedish or Danish royalty may have lived when in Oslo (then called Christiana), but now the fortress holds a few museums and a public park for visitors to use. We visited the Resistance Museum, which chronicles the 5 years that Norway was occupied by the Nazis during WW2. It was very interesting to see a different history of WW2 than we had learned in the U.S. and to imagine how an occupation that long must have affected the Norwegian Nationalism.

WHEW!! I told you it would be long. There were other little things that we did while in Oslo, but these are the important things that we thought we would share. Soon we will upload some photos from the trip to share with you all. And if any of these places intrigue you, please google them and learn more or feel free to email us with questions!

Ha det bra!
(and Kjerstin)


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